On a recent Saturday night, a girl was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. She has one small child. Her husband attended the small gathering.
My husband was responsible for arranging music, speakers, a program, witnesses etc.
I have been thinking on that baptismal service. A friend, Denice, pointed out a helpful perspective that I had never really considered previously - or have I just forgot it since she told me some other time? Denice told me about a lesson in Relief Society about baptism.
Our course of study in 2010 is 'Gospel Principles'. I attended church the Sunday before with my daughter and her family. Their lesson was about repentance. Anywhere you go, anywhere in the world the course of study is the same even though that particular area may have a different schedule. The course of 47 core principles (available on lds.org) systematically discusses and studies those core principles in a simple but comprehensive way.
Baptism is for every person that is 8 years of age and that is accountable (responsible) for their actions. Satan cannot tempt babies and young children until that age and they are not able to sin. When they develop normally there comes a time when they are accountable and can sin.
Dalin H Oaks has taught that "... the missionaries' purpose ... is to save souls, to baptize converts, which is to to open the doors of the Celestial Kingdom to the sons and daughters of God."
Think on that! Opens the doors - we are not forced to enter but the door is unlocked or open and we may choose to.
Once we have received that ordinance, even if we never again obey Heavenly Father's commandments, attend church or make additional covenants - that door is open for us to make the choice to do so at any time.
What a glorious thing - baptism -
the key to open the very door to God's kingdom!
In April 2009 Quentin L Cook, an member of the 12 apostles, again taught us and reminded us that "... because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all spirits blessed by birth will ultimately be resurrected, spirit and body reunited, and inherit kingdoms of glory that are superior to our existence here on earth."
Those conditions will be mostly of our own choosing. We make choices here on earth about that happiness and what we desire and there we will live with all the joy we truly desire. Even those that are NOT obedient to God will eventually have a place of glory there greater than this earth!
I witness to the validity and veracity of this promise. I know each of us will live after death as the scriptures and prophets teach. There is hope and happiness for every one of us. And the humble and obedient can not begin to comprehend the greater happiness and exceeding joy that they will receive. The Doctrine and Covenants (Section 76 among others) specifies and outlines some detail.
Too many of us, perhaps, do not realize the hope for the reality of great happiness.
If even the disobedient - but never mind - I digress ...I love the gospel - the 'good news' and thrill to think about these things.
Now back to the insight my friend shared -
When we become accountable we face many temptations. Each of us needs to be baptized so that we may be blessed with the gift of the Holy Ghost. As in all things we follow the example of the Savior and are immersed in water and then receive the spirit - the gift of the Holy Ghost, a comforter and guide. As we struggle to be more perfect, more like our Father in Heaven and face temptations and trials the Holy Ghost can and will guide us.
There is a difference between the Holy Ghost and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. When we receive the latter we can have that guidance with us at all times. What an incredible thing - would you not desire such a gift? especially knowing that Satan and those that follow him desire your misery and constantly seek to ensure it?
We pass over this thing too lightly. After the age of accountability Satan can tempt young children. Some individuals want their children to be 'older' and make their own choice about baptism but that child will not have the Gift of the Holy Ghost to guide them at all times unless and until they are baptized at (or beyond) the age of accountability.
To me that is chilling. I would not allow my child to face a freezing blizzard or a scorching summer day unprotected and without resources. As a parent I am responsible to also ensure their spiritual protection and well being yet I would not force, coerce, or compel them to be baptized. I would though be very diligent and concerned in teaching them truth and confidence in their ability to recognize it and make their own choices about the truths they can understand - that, after all, IS being accountable or responsible.
Denice shared with me the insight that when we receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost it is a critical shield and protection - I know that but I just haven't thought about it in this specific way regarding children and temptation before.
I think of this girl that received this marvelous gift the Sunday after her baptism. She is an adult. There are so many good people that might rejoice as she is and truly desire such a gift and cherish it.
Am I willing to help them find and have such a gift?